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Minneapolis council majority backs stadium

ST. PAUL -- Minneapolis officials say they have enough votes on their City Council to approve a new Vikings stadium, but financing and other issues keep the proposal in doubt.

Mayor R.T. Rybak this morning gave Gov. Mark Dayton letters of support from seven council members, giving the stadium a majority backing. However, Rybak said in response to a question that the support only applies if legislators make no changes that affect Minneapolis in the stadium-construction bill.

Winning over majority council support was just one of several roadblocks stadium supporters must overcome.

A key remaining issue is how to fund the state's portion of construction costs. The existing bill would allow charities to switch to electronic pulltabs and bingo, which is supposed to bring in more than enough tax revenue to the state to pay off stadium debt.

But the organization of charities that receive money from gambling consistently has said the proposal is not good enough.

"They had their eyes set on this level and now they have to settle for this," Dayton said, moving his hand from above his head to about shoulder level.

The latest Dayton plan would give Minnesota charities $62 million more than they receive now.

However, many lawmakers also are concerned about how the state would pay back construction loans if gambling revenue falls below expectations. So far, no backup financial plan has been announced.

The Minneapolis council letters mirror a bill introduced by Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, and Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, to extend an existing hospitality tax in the city until 2045, allow part of that money to finance the city's portion of a $975 million stadium and allow the rest of the taxes to go to economic development.

Some in the Legislature hope to adjourn in less than two weeks. Dayton said that is enough time to finish a stadium bill if legislative leaders want to.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.